Thursday, 13 June 2019

The Reading Room


I’ve been around longer than anyone in the universe. In fact, I watched this place get created by the Big Man himself. I didn’t help, I just stood by and watched as it exploded into its intensively hot and magma-engorged sense of being. So many thing happened all at once and suddenly, gas turned into solids, planets were formed and then?

Well, then, within what seemed as though a blink of an eye, I watched you all evolve.

You would think you did – but from what I’m seeing, you haven’t really. You’re just better dressed, standing upright and have less hair than your ancestors did. But really, you still think with that primitive brain at the base of your skull an awful lot.

Yes, I find you all very disappointing.

But I’m not here to judge. I’m not here to tell you what to do. I’m here to watch. And I’ve been reading about your lives in the most interesting ways.
You see, dear Humans, you all have a shelf filled to the brim with a collection of notebooks when you’re born – and I mean the shelves are so full I can’t get any of them out. But as the years pass by, those notebooks lessen and increase in number.
It kinda depends on what you do in your life.
Do you catch that bus you’re running for now? Or do you wait for the next one which will be in a fatal accident – and you don’t know, but I do, because there’s that notebook where you die in a bus crash on this day?
Do you have a good day where you stay home in bed while you’re sick with a cold from work? Or do you push yourself to go to work and make yourself so much worse that they have to send you to a hospital where you end up in intensive care? And yes, your notebook on your shelf says that too.
Then, there’s those lives where when they’re born, their shelves are empty and there’s just one book on it. I don’t like it when this happens. This means this life isn’t very long, or there’s only one way they’ll live and die. And quite often I like to collect these people personally, mainly because I don’t get to see shelves like these all the time – and it’s not fair on the families.

But lately, my shelves have been looking kinda bare. I’m not sure what’s been happening. A lot of people’s notebooks have been disappearing from my reading room and they’ve been showing up in the veil too soon. I’ve asked questions in the Time-Keeper’s Quarters, but they’re not telling me anything.

Today, I walked into my reading room and found one book on each shelf. The room echoed emptily as I walked around to each row and read each of them. At first, I thought it was a joke; as the first few books said the same thing, ‘Mass extinction.’
Then, I went around to the next few and found they all said the same thing!
Looked up at the cavernous, darkened ceiling, I called out, “I don’t understand! You come here and tell me what you’re doing to your creation!”
“You’re demanding me to explain myself?” his voice was soft as he stood in front of me.
“So, you’re an old man?”
He shrugged as he took a seat across from me at my large desk, “Most people who know me call me Sheppard.”
Holding up one of the books, I raised my eyebrows, “A mass extinction? Really?”
Smirking, he snorted, “I’ve done it before a number of times. This time, it’ll be a clean slate again. And I’ll start over completely; and you’ll be here to help me.”
“No. As before, I stand by and that’s it.”
He rose from the seat, resting his fingertips on the table, leaning forward, “You said no to me? I created you.”
“No you didn’t. I came with the universe as it was created. I stood by and watched it explode to life, then saw you show up and take control. You don’t have any control over me. I can reap you – and will – if you don’t stop this.”
“Have you seen what they have done to Paradise?” he shouted, his voice echoing around the chamber of my reading room.
“Yes. And wasn’t it you who took off when things became too hard?” I snapped, “Leaving me to clean up your messes.”
Sheppard gave me a foul, baleful look before he turned his back on me, “I didn’t take off. I was ashamed of my children. I have been for a long time.”
“Tough luck, that’s what children do. But a mass extinction isn’t the answer.”
He looked at me, “You’re right.” A smile crept upon his face, “I might just get rid of you and see what happens next.”
“The next reaper who dies takes my place.” I said.
“I’ll fix it so that doesn’t happen, and other reapers will get greedy.”
I frowned, wondering what happened to him. Why was he doing this to the children he had created so long ago. Why was he becoming so willing to destroy when there was hope still left in the world?
“Why am I doing this?” he asked, “I’m doing this because I’m tired. I’m tired of getting my hands dirty.”
“You don’t have to.”
“But to get involved with them is getting them dirty.”
“Then why did you create them to begin with?”
He smiled, “It was just for fun – an experiment if you will.”
“And when it didn’t go to plan – your plan – you’re going to destroy it with a mass extinction?”
He nodded, “Why not? It’s my experiment.”
“For somebody who created souls, you certainly have no idea how to act like you have one.”
“I don’t have one.”
“I don’t either, but I have empathy.”
He groaned as he looked up at the ceiling, “Fine! They’ll stay.” He swept his hand over the shelves and they filled with notebooks again, “My, my, you’re annoying for something which takes souls.”
“I may be a Reaper – the big one with the scythe – but it doesn’t mean I don’t feel for those I reap.”
He rolled his eyes, “Yeah, yeah. I’m outa here.”
Just like that, he was gone from my reading room.
I thought he’d be more interesting. Still, to be that annoyed at a creation, only a couple of billion years into the experiment and to end it so soon? I’ve seen things go for much longer and end messier.
But then, I’m Death... I’m eternal.

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